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Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

The Beavers of the Truckee River

Posted on April 20, 2011
Filed Under Lake Tahoe Eco-Tips

Have you seen more of these rodents recently?

At East Cove in South Lake Tahoe there have been several sightings of beaver walking along the trail (yes, walking) and swimming in the Tahoe Keys.

And they’re big – like 60 lbs – especially one we’ve named Norman who’s been busy getting his lodge ready.

In fact, two beaver – probably Norman and his girlfriend – have been seen at the mouth of the Truckee River at East Cove playing, building and enjoying the Tahoe lifestyle.

Upstream, the beaver in the hoods of Sierra Tract have fallen large trees like pine not just willows, that has significantly changed the route of the river in the past few years.

Is this good or bad?

Here’s more about this industrious rodent (Wikipedia):

The beaver works as a keystone species in an ecosystem by creating wetlands that are used by many other species. Next to humans, no other extant animal appears to do more to shape its landscape. They cut down trees for several reasons – as a food source and to build their shelters.

Beavers are best known for their natural trait of building dams in rivers and streams, and building their homes (known as beaver lodges) in the resulting pond. Beaver dams are created both as a protection against predators, such as coyotes, wolves and bears, and to provide easy access to food during winter.

Beavers always work at night and are prolific builders, carrying mud and stones with their fore-paws and timber between their teeth. Because of this, destroying a beaver dam without removing the beavers is difficult, especially if the dam is downstream of an active lodge. Beavers can rebuild such primary dams overnight, though they may not defend secondary dams as vigorously.

While dam building can cause damage to the surrounding property, it is extremely beneficial in restoring wetlands and the surrounding ecology. Such wetland benefits include flood control downstream, biodiversity (by providing habitat for many rare as well as common species), and water cleansing, both by the breakdown of toxins such as pesticides and the retention of silt by beaver dams. Over the eons, this collection of silt produces the rich bottom land so sought after by farmers. Beaver dams also reduce erosion as well as decrease the turbidity that is a limiting factor for much aquatic life.

Not indigenous to Lake Tahoe, how did they get here?

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